10th-11th December 2015

The year 2015 marks the thirtieth anniversary of Elaine Scarry’s The Body in Pain. In this seminal text, Scarry offers a radical and original thesis on the relationship between embodiment, pain, wounding and imagining, arguing that pain is central to “the making and unmaking of the world”. Widely regarded as a classic, the text has influenced work on notions of the body, war, torture and pain in a variety of academic disciplines – from philosophy, to anthropology, to cultural geography, to political theory, to many others – as well as informing debates and discussions in medical science, NGOs, charities and other parts of society.

In the years since its publication the text has only become more relevant as a growing number of scholars have taken account of various violences, at both the local and the global level, through an understanding of embodiment. Phenomena such as suicide bombing, ‘shock and awe’ tactics, neo-colonial occupation, the financialisation of abjection, anti-austerity occupation, the figure of the wounded veteran, memorialisation, and many others, have all been read through an understanding of the body and its relationship to power, violence and subjectivity.

In this two-day conference we will engage Scarry’s text with recent theoretical accounts of the body, pain, violence and subjectivity, as well as with forms of violence that have emerged in the light of new modes of war-waging and resistance. In this way we hope to reinvigorate some of The Body in Pain’s most well known arguments while bringing parts of the text that have received comparatively less attention to the fore.

Invited speakers include: Charlotte Heath-Kelly, Wendy Lynne Lee, Maria Fannin, Kevin McSorley, Lauren Wilcox, Joanna Latimer, Robin May Schott, Mark Paterson, Sarah Nettleton, Monica Greco, Yasmin Gunaratnam, Lisa Guenther, and Gillian Bendelow.

Sponsored by the Wellcome Trust and the University of Brighton, organised by CAPPE, The Centre for Memory Narrative and Histories (coordinating under the title ‘Understanding Conflict Research Cluster’) and the postgraduate student Critical Studies Research Group.


Conference Programme

Wednesday 9th December 2015

17:00 – 20:00 Pre-Conference Screening of The Act of Killing – Room 207

Chair: Naomi Salaman

Thursday 10th December 2015

9.00 – 9.30 Registration

9.30 – 10.00 Welcome – Sallis Benney Theatre

10.00 – 11.15 Keynote – Sallis Benney,

Joanna Bourke,  Sadism: Reading Elaine Scarry through the History of Sexual Cruelty

Chair: Anthony Leaker

11.15 – 11.30 Break – Cafeteria

11.30 – 13.15 Session 1

Panel 1 – Sallis Benney

Chair: Kate Newby

Ana Carden Coyne – ‘Communicating Their Pain to Me’: Sensation, Silence and Intimacy among the Wounded of the First World War

Leticia Fernández-Fontecha – The Rhetoric of Children’s Pain (1870 – 1920)

Shadia Abdel-Rahman Tellez – The Language of Pain in Experimental Literature: Violence, Fragmentation, Subjectivity and Narrativity in Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing

Panel 2 – Boardroom

Chair: Megan Archer

Leila Dawney – Visibilities of Wounding and the Mediation of Affect

Kevin McSorley – Late Modern War and the Torturer’s Dream:  Remapping the Body in Pain

Paul Reynolds – Making the World in Jouissance: The Body in Pain as Exploration

Panel 3 – G4

Chair: German Primera

Torsten Menge – Violence and the “Fiction of Power”

Sarah Meehan O’Callaghan – The Silent Scream

Alejandro Romero Reche, Maria Dolores Sanchez-Arjona – The Body in Torture Porn: A Graphic Essay

13.15 – 14.15 Lunch – Cafeteria

14.15 – 16.00 Session 2

Panel 4 – Sallis Benney

Chair: Kevin McSorley

Jennifer R. Ballengee – Torture, Terrorism, and the Global Public Sphere

Charlotte Heath-Kelly – The Body in Pain; the Body before Mortality

Robin May Schott – The Principle of Materiality and Political Violence

Panel 5 – Boardroom

Chair: Leila Dawney

Stephen Burwood – Pain and the Ambiguity of the Body as Mine

Susan Grayzel – Bodies, Objects, and Modern War:  Exploring the Civilian Gas Mask in Interwar Britain

Mark Paterson – A Cartography of the Interior Structure of the Artifact: Mapping Pain and Sensation in the Nineteenth Century

Panel 6 – G4

Chair: Garikoitz Gómez Alfaro

Thomas Carter – The Joy of Pain and the Making of the Runner

Michael O’Rourke – SOOO… (Scarry’s Object Oriented Ontology)

Pau Pedragosa – Embodied Architecture: A Phenomenological Interpretation of Scarry’s The Body in Pain for Architectural Theory

16.00 – 17.30 Wine Reception – Boardroom

18.00 – 19.30 Keynote – Old Courtroom, Church Street

Elaine Scarry , Final Pain: The Problem of Nuclear Weapons

Chair: Tim Huzar

20.00 – Late Conference Dinner – The Mesmerist, Prince Albert Street

Friday 11th December 2015

9.00 – 9.30 Coffee – Cafeteria

9.30 – 11.15 Session 3

Panel 7 – Sallis Benney

Chair: Heather McKnight

Matthew Congdon – From Pain to Moral Injury: A Normative Typology of Aversive Experience

James M. Glass – On Torture as Political Trauma: Fanon and Calhoun on the Elevating Ethics of Violence

Wendy Lynne Lee – Elide, Efface, Erase: Violence Institutionalized as “Subject,” Embodied as “Pain”

Panel 8: The Act of Killing Film Discussion – G4

Chair: Lars Cornelissen

Clare Bayley

Naomi Salaman

Gill Scott

11.15 – 11.30 Break

11.30 – 13.15 Session 4

Panel 9 – Sallis Benney

Chair: Afxentis Afxentiou

Thomas Gregory – Bodies in Pain: Civilian Casualties, Targeted Killings and the Politics of Visibility

Tim Huzar – Pain, Voice and Logos in The Body in Pain

Nayeli Urquiza-Haas – Sisters of the Body in Pain: The Legacy of Hannah Arendt on Elaine Scarry, Wendy Brown and Judith Butler

Panel 10 – Boardroom

Chair: Anna Ilona Rajala

  • Yasmin Gunaratnam – Diasporic Neurologies
  • Deborah Padfield – Pain: Speaking the Threshold
  • Emma Sheppard – The Problem of Chronic Pain

13.15 – 14.15 Lunch

14.15 – 16.00 Session 5

Panel 11 – Sallis Benney

Chair: Marina Espinoza

Sarah Bulmer – Making and Unmaking the Wounded Military Body

Harmonie Toros – My Grandfather, My Father, My X-Box, My Body: Embodying Human Experience of War in the Classroom

Johanna Willenfelt – What Can the Body in Pain Do?

Panel 12 – Boardroom

Chair: Angela Devas

Lisa Guenther – The Making and Unmaking of the World in Long-Term Solitary Confinement

Deana Heath – Colonialism as the ‘unmaking of the world’: Reinterpreting Colonial Violence through the Body in Pain

Karen Wells – Seeing, feeling and believing: the place of touch and sight in the discourse of witnesses to Sierra Leone’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission

16.00 – 16:30 Break

16:30 – 17.30 Round Table and Closing Remarks – Sallis Benney

Chair: Leila Dawney

Discussants: Joanna Bourke, Bob Brecher, Graham Dawson, Elaine Scarry

18.00 – Late Drinks – The Fountain Head, North Road


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